Epilepsy-related knowledge, attitudes, and practices among Zambian police officers

Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, University of Zambia, Lusaka, Lusaka, Zambia
Epilepsy & Behavior (Impact Factor: 2.26). 06/2007; 10(3):456-62. DOI: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2006.12.010
Source: PubMed


In Zambia, where emergency medical services are very limited, the police are frequently called to the scene for unaccompanied people experiencing seizures or exhibiting disturbed behaviors during a seizure. Police officers receive no formal medical training to manage such encounters. We developed and administered a police-specific survey to assess knowledge, attitudes, and practices (KAP) regarding epilepsy among police officers in Zambia.
In 2004, a 28-item KAP questionnaire that included queries specific to police encounters with seizures and epilepsy was developed and delivered to a random sample of 200 police officers stationed in Lusaka. Descriptive data were reviewed and open text questions postcoded and categorized.
The response rate was 87.5% (n=175). Police were familiar with epilepsy, with 85% having witnessed a seizure. Although 77.1% recognized epilepsy as a brain disorder, almost 20% blamed spirit possession, 13.9% associated epilepsy with witchcraft, and more than half the respondents believed epilepsy is contagious. When asked how they would treat someone brought in for disturbing the peace during a seizure, most police provided supportive or neutral responses, but 8% reported taking harmful actions (arrest, detain, handcuff, restrain), and 14.3% indicated that people with epilepsy in police custody require quarantine.
A significant number of police officers in Zambia lack critical knowledge regarding epilepsy and self-report detrimental actions toward people with seizures. In regions of the developing world where the police provide emergency medical services, police officers need to be a target for educational and social intervention programs.


Available from: Edward Mbewe
  • Source
    • "Large gaps have been found in awareness of the causes of the disease, and, even worse, widespread negative attitudes were documented, mainly associated with educational level, age, and sex. Large population surveys in people with epilepsy (PWE) in developing countries involve obvious difficulties ; nevertheless, studies have been done even in sub-Saharan Africa [33] [34] [35] [36] [37] [38] [39] [40] [41] [42] [43], where socially deprived groups and selected occupational categories could be investigated in particular [44] [45] [46] [47] [48] [49]. However, to our knowledge, few studies have compared the opinions and attitudes towards epilepsy of neighboring urban and rural populations. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Misconception and stigma towards epilepsy have a profound impact on this disease in Africa. An unselected sample of Zambian people was interviewed to investigate their knowledge and attitudes towards epilepsy. Proper/improper answers were scored, and a composite score was developed with negative values for unsatisfactory awareness and high stigma levels. The sample comprised 231 people residing in urban (107) or in rural (124) areas. The median and interquartile range of scores for epilepsy awareness and stigma were, respectively, -1 (-3; +1) and +1 (-1; +6). Poor education was the only significant predictor of unsatisfactory awareness (p=0.0131), while education and residency were significantly associated with stigma (p<0.0001 and p=0.0004). Rural people were mostly in the highest stigma level (44.2%) and urban people in the lowest stigma level (60.4%). Misconception and negative attitudes towards epilepsy among Zambian people reflect poor education and rural residency.
    Epilepsy & Behavior 03/2014; 34C:42-46. DOI:10.1016/j.yebeh.2014.02.025 · 2.26 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "Multiple studies have identified the knowledge of and attitudes towards people with epilepsy in this area [5]. However, results are based on nondisabled study populations such as clerics [6], teachers [7] [8] [9], police officers [10], health-care workers [11], and students [12] [13] [14]. An unanswered question is what people with disabilities in sub-Saharan Africa personally believe about their condition. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: People living with a disability in sub-Saharan Africa have poorer health outcomes, lower educational successes, less economic participation, and higher levels of poverty than people without disability. Disability-inclusive development promotes the involvement of people with disabilities in programs that reduce these inequalities. This requires a good understanding of how individuals with disability perceive their condition. In this study, we identified cultural beliefs among 31 individuals with epilepsy or physical impairment, known to a community-based rehabilitation service in Guinea-Bissau, using face-to-face interviews. We related these beliefs to religious background and type of disability. We found poor knowledge of and attitudes towards disability among persons with epilepsy and physical impairment. Cultural beliefs were significantly shaped by religious background. Islamic respondents were more positive about their disability as compared to Christians and traditional believers. A better understanding of cultural beliefs among people with disabilities may help to launch and adapt disability-inclusive community-based rehabilitation services.
    Epilepsy & Behavior 10/2013; 29(3). DOI:10.1016/j.yebeh.2013.09.001 · 2.26 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "The attribution of epilepsy to spiritual attacks, witchcraft, and supernatural affliction is well known from previous studies in Senegal [30], Ethiopia [26], and Nigeria [28] [29] [39]. This was also found among clerics [40], teachers [41], health care workers [42] and police officers in Zambia [43], and people from two communities in Cameroon [34] [44]. Volunteers in our study suggested the need for special schools for children with epilepsy. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Background: Community-based epilepsy care programs improve access to epilepsy treatment in resource-poor settings. Community volunteers are important to these services. Most studies on familiarity with, understanding of, and attitudes towards people with epilepsy (PWE), however, ignore these volunteers. Methods: We explored these issues among 15 community volunteers involved in a community-based rehabilitation child epilepsy service recently initiated in Guinea-Bissau using face-to-face interviews. Results: We found that the volunteers had a reasonable understanding of epilepsy, moderate attitudes towards PWE, and a good understanding of difficulties PWE encounter in society. Conclusion: Evaluation of understanding and attitudes of community volunteers may be useful to improve low-cost community-based epilepsy programs. A correct understanding of epilepsy among community volunteers may increase effective treatment of and support to children with epilepsy through community-based epilepsy programs.
    Epilepsy & Behavior 06/2013; 28(2):196-200. DOI:10.1016/j.yebeh.2013.05.013 · 2.26 Impact Factor
Show more